On Goa Revolution Day, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the State would be plastic free by June 18th next year.
On Goa Revolution Day, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the State would be plastic free by June 18th next year. In making this statement, he has set himself an ambitious target and given himself a very short period to meet it. While it is a statement that will have the greens happy, the question is whether Goa plastic free is achievable in the given time period. To make Goa plastic free in a year would actually require another revolution where people’s participation would be as important as the political will. At this point of time, despite statements to the contrary, both appear to be lacking in the measure they are required.
The Chief Minister’s statement on making Goa plastic free follows the announcement a few weeks earlier that plastic bags of less than 50 microns will be banned from July 1. As per the Chief Minister’s statement regarding this, trade in bags below 50 micros will be stopped from July and initially those buying or selling the banned bags will be fined Rs 500 and the fine will subsequently be increased to Rs 5000. The statement on Revolution Day needs to be translated into action so that is shows the seriousness with which the government is tackling this issue, otherwise these will remain merely statements with no change at the ground level, and a deadline will pass by without anything changing.
As said, making Goa plastic free will require a revolution as the use of plastic is very widespread in the State. Shopping bags, water bottles, areated drinks bottles are all plastic and these are flung out of buses and vehicles adding to the trash and causing environmental problems. But this was not always so.
A short story that has gone around in the social media in the past weeks tells of a young cashier suggesting to a much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologises and explains, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.” To which the young clerk responds, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
The story goes on to say that the older woman was right that her generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day, but that didn’t make the young cashier right, for in the time of the youth of the older woman, the story adds, the people returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store, which sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised, refilled and reused. Plastic bags were not used, as when the people went shopping they took their own wicker or cloth bags and reused them for years. In the decades past there was recycling, without having the ‘green thing’.
Today there is the ‘green thing’ but recycling that was once done without being consciously aware of environment protection, is yet to pick up though today’s generation is conscious of the environment and the need to protect it. And to make it happen, there is now need of rules and fines, as will be the case of use of plastic of less than 50 microns.
To take forward the plastic ban and plastic free proposals, what is required is a policy to reduce the use of plastic and replace its use with other materials. It is only when that is done, that Goa can become plastic free. Right now the convenience of the use of plastic is increasing people’s dependence on it. When that changes, habits will change.